When the Democrats went populist

Guest post by Smartypants

As the civil war in the Republican Party between the establishment and the anti-establishment rages on, there seems to be a knee-jerk need in the punditry class to find a false equivalence with the Democrats. We saw this the other day from the dudebro firebaggers in their longing for the same kind of civil war on the left. Now its surfacing from some in the more traditional media. For example, from the establishment point of view, Chris Cilliza thinks that perhaps Chris Christie can emulate Bill Clinton and rescue the Republicans from their civil war. For the anti-establishment folks, Chrystia Freeland seems to thinks the NY Mayoral candidacy of Bill de Blasio is just like the tea partiers.

What’s frustrating in reading all this nonsense is that it seems that very few people pay any attention to history these days – even the more recent variety. Because if they did, they’d know that the Democrats had their own populist movement not that long ago. And the real question is whether or not we can sustain it on a national level going in to the 2016 presidential election.

To set the stage, we have to go back to what led up to the Reagan/Bush years. For the best description of how that happened, I’d suggest that folks read what Peter Beinart wrote about it a couple of years ago. To summarize, coming out of the left-wing hey-day of the 60’s, Democrats got their butts kicked for 20 years in presidential elections – with the one exception being the Carter years that were a direct result of Nixon’s Watergate. Here’s what the Republicans did:

1972 – 520 electoral votes (49 states)

1980 – 489 electoral votes (44 states)

1984 – 525 electoral votes (49 states)

1988 – 426 electoral votes (40 states)

As you might imagine, Democrats were scared shitless that their future as a national party was over (things looked even worse for them than they currently do for Republicans these days). And so, a group of mostly Southern Democrats got together and formed the Democratic Leadership Council in 1985. Their goal was to shift the Democratic Party more towards “centrist” policies. But perhaps more importantly, they felt the need to attract more big money donors to the Democratic Party in order to compete with Republicans.

The result of these efforts was the election of Clinton/Gore (both founders of the DLC) in 1992. Perhaps since the Democrats were still fairly new to this whole business of big money donors, Clinton/Gore got off to a rocky start that resulted in a whole string of scandals about campaign finance. In case you’re forgotten about all that, just think “Lincoln bedroom.”

To connect this with the current race for VA governor, it was during Clinton’s presidency that he installed Terry McAulliffe (big donor fundraiser extraordinaire) as the head of the Democratic Party. That’s why you see the Clinton’s campaigning so hard in his election – their connection to McAuliffe is deep.

One of the first Democrats to speak out against this capture of the party by the DLC was Paul Wellstone; it was the context for the line that was eventually adopted by Howard Dean: “I represent the democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”

And then came Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in 2004. Anyone who actually paid attention knows that – other than his anti Iraq war position – Dean was no flaming liberal. But his bottom-up anti-establishment campaign was a direct challenge to what the DLC and the Clinton’s had built – especially in their reliance on big money.

As a full-blown Deaniac at the time, I watched the Clinton machine go after Howard Dean – as ferociously (perhaps moreso) than the Republicans did. And that became even more evident after Dean lost the presidential primary to John Kerry and went on to out-maneuver them to become Chair of the Democratic Party following Kerry’s loss to Bush.

As you probably know, Dean instituted a 50-state strategy, which was an attempt to build up the party to be competitive in all 50 states. Rather than the party elites picking candidates, Dean wanted them to come from the grassroots. And even after his success in the 2006 elections, the Clinton machine brought out the knives against him. You can read about some of that here. But perhaps the crux of it came when James Carville said that Dean should be fired and replaced with…get this…Harold Ford (then DLC Chair).

All of that is what set the stage for a lot of the acrimony that surfaced between the Obama and Clinton campaigns in 2008. From the beginning, Barack Obama made it clear that he was not a member of the DLC and instead built his campaign on a new and improved version of Howard Dean’s bottom-up grassroots model. While Clinton continued to rely on big money donors, Obama showed that the presidency could be won by harnessing the power of millions of small donors – shattering the whole DLC model.

Via that primary and a win in November 2008, President Obama offered a way out of establishment big money politics. That is why I’ll be watching what happens in 2016. Can we find a way to preserve what Obama has done after he’s gone? Has Hillary Clinton learned anything from her defeat and her time with the President in the White House? Or will her candidacy take us back to the top-down big money model of the (now-defunct) DLC? And finally, if Clinton demonstrates that she hasn’t changed, is there someone who can pick up the mantle from Obama and continue his legacy?

If people really paid attention to our not-too-distant past, those are the questions we’d be asking.

ALEC Is Not Your Friend – Beware!

If you were wondering where a lot of the terrible laws and attacks on our rights are coming from, meet ALEC. From the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance…

“ALEC” is the American Legislative Exchange Council, and it may be the most powerful organization you (probably) never heard of. There’s a good chance ALEC already has impacted your life. And if it hasn’t yet, give it time.

ALEC describes itself as an organization that “provides a constructive forum for state legislators and private sector leaders to discuss and exchange practical, state-level public policy issues.” Others have called it a means for powerful corporations and interest groups to influence legislation to enrich themselves at the public’s expense.


Let’s look at specific examples. Insurance companies wanted off the hook from mesothelioma claims, so ALEC came forward with a model bill to protect corporations from asbestos exposure liability. The bill quickly was introduced in Ohio, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, West Virginia, and at the federal level. The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act would require asbestos victims and their families to publicly disclose all manner of personal information before receiving compensation. This information could be used to deny credit or employment and make the victims vulnerable to identity theft. The point, obviously, is to intimidate people from filing claims. No such disclosure is required of companies that exposed employees and customers to asbestos.

In fact, liability protection is a major focus of ALEC bills. As of August 2013, this year at least 71 bills crafted by ALEC have been introduced around the country that make it harder to hold corporations accountable for death or injury. Many have misleading names, such as the “Full and Fair Noneconomic Damages Act,” introduced in two states, that limits the amount a corporation has to pay to compensate people it has injured.

Go read the whole article and beware!

The Justice Department Did Not “Organize” Protests In Sanford Florida As Idiots Claim!

Only the crazy, racist, brain dead people of the right-wing propaganda machine could turn a Department of Justice unit called the Community Relations Service into a nefarious group and claim they helped “organize” the protests in Sanford Florida, following the national exposure of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin.  The CRS is tasked with preventing tensions in racially charged situations, the opposite of what the idiots are claiming.

It fits nicely in their up is down, down is up world, doesn’t it?

I won’t link to any of the many posts flying around the wingnutosphere claiming that this Community Relations Service helped to “organize” anti-Zimmerman protests. The following is what the Community Relations Service actually does, via Media Matters for America…

The Community Relations Service is the Department’s “peacemaker” for community conflicts and tensions arising from differences of race, color, and national origin. Created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, CRS is the only Federal agency dedicated to assist State and local units of government, private and public organizations, and community groups with preventing and resolving racial and ethnic tensions, incidents, and civil disorders, and in restoring racial stability and harmony.


For more than 45 years, CRS has been asked to provide its experienced mediators to help local communities resolve conflicts and disturbances relating to race, color, or national origin. Each year CRS’ highly skilled conciliators bring hundreds of community-wide conflicts to peaceful closure across America and its territories.

I imagine that the wingnuts really don’t want tensions to be eased, they hope to see cops bring out the riot gear and beat some people down for their sick pleasure. They really want there to be riots, you can tell by all the stories that have been written fantasizing about it. Don’t be surprised if they bus in instigators to cause disturbances, that is how they roll.

The overt racism within the right-wing media is bubbling over. Since the election of President Obama, the backlash from racists has been obvious to anyone not mired in that hateful, ignorant world. The Trayvon Martin trial has brought many of them out of their shells. They are incapable of seeing Trayvon as a living, breathing, 17 year old kid with college aspirations and a caring heart, but rather as a “thug” or any of the adjectives that George Zimmerman was recorded calling young Trayvon.

When anyone even starts to justify the killing of Trayvon, an innocent young man walking home from the store, I cut them right off. In my mind, anyone capable of justifying the murder of Trayvon Martin is a sick motherfucker and needs help. There is absolutely no justification for murdering Trayvon Martin in cold blood, NONE!

The only person responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death is George Zimmerman, full stop.

The Slow, Steady Demise of the Republican Party Continues

republican1As the wheels on the Republican clown car keep flying off one at a time, our President and Vice President continue to prove that the Democratic Party is the only serious, adult political party in Washington these days. Even with the obstructionist GOP pulling every dirty trick in the book, the President and Democrats keep moving forward and fighting for all Americans.

I remember back to December of 2012 when Republicans started telegraphing their intention to try to use the debt ceilings as “leverage” to destroy the safety net that took generations to weave and I thought to myself that they clearly didn’t learn any lessons from the last election.

I laugh every time a Republican, or one of the media that parrots them, tries to make the lame ass argument that because the GOP retained control of the House, even though they lost seats, that somehow they won. Here is one example of that denial from Boehner the Blubberer…

“The American people want solutions, and tonight they responded by renewing our House Republican majority,” House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, who ran unopposed in his re-election bid, declared Tuesday night.

And of course Buzzfeed, a wannabe Politico, took the idiotic concept even further.

Americans, for all their griping, apparently really do prefer their government deeply divided and dysfunctional.

I almost feel silly spelling this out for people, but in our current state of political and media dysfunction, you really do have to spell it out in precise detail for the uninformed or Fox News brainwashed masses. We each vote for our individual representatives and senators and when the dust settles on the election, we find out which party came out ahead. I’ve never seen a line on a ballot that gave me the option of voting for who controls a branch of congress or a check box for “divided government”. It’s wherever the chips fall. It’s magical thinking to believe that somehow the American people coordinated their votes to reach an outcome.

I feel similar about the folks on the left saying that more people voted for Democrats than Republicans when you add up all the votes. Well, we don’t add up all the votes or if we do, it means absolutely nothing. I certainly agree with the people pointing out the gerrymandering that took place in order for Republicans to keep so many seats, but the fact that Democrats received more votes overall, shouldn’t be used in the same way Republicans are using the overall outcome in the House. Democrats should stick to the facts, we picked up seats in the House.

The changing metric of who won or lost an election in the Republican’s minds reveals just how pathetic they are. If the roles were reversed and Democrats retained the House while Republicans picked up seats, you know damn well that they would be saying they won because they picked up seats. The grasping for some kind of straw that they can use to say they won is comical to me and reveals just how easy it is to spin without push back.

This denial from the Republicans, which may be better described as a delusion, also makes them continue with the same crap that brought the American people out to smack them down on November 6th. The prime example is the Republican’s attempt to use the debt ceiling to take our economy hostage again. There is a huge difference between the 2011 debt ceiling crisis and the current one. In 2011, the Republican’s goal, as spelled out by many in the party, was to make President Obama a one term president at all costs. That included damaging the economy, preventing job growth and saying anything to mislead their voters and rile them up. And it was easy to get their partisans to go along with it, because after all, it served their prime goal.

When the idea of another hostage situation with the debt ceiling started creeping into the discussion before Christmas, I couldn’t believe that the Republicans would go there again. Not only is it idiotic for all the same reasons it was in 2011, but with the election behind us and the goal of defeating the President a mere memory of a wet dream, it raises the level of stupidity even higher. The President has played his hand masterfully. He is smart enough to know that the election is behind us and that Wall Street and big business is not into losing money unless it is planned for their benefit.

Newt Gingrich was one of the first in the GOP to point out the stupidity of the tactic and he is being joined by many others on the right side of the fence. Steve Benen gives us the latest defections from the stupid caucus…

Just today, Charles Krauthammer, a prominent conservative pundit, told Republicans they “won’t get” their ransom, they’ll have to “give in” eventually, and they should “forget about forcing tax reform or entitlement cuts or anything major.” Jennifer Rubin added, “The jig is nearly up…. [T]he threat of bumping up against the debt ceiling is not realistic and hence not useful.” […]

It would probably be an overstatement to say Republicans are already surrendering, but let’s just say they’ve taken the white flag off the shelf, even if they’re not yet ready to wave it.

That said, it also appears the congressional GOP hopes to trade one hostage for another.

Even if Republicans now seem to realize they can’t follow through on their debt-ceiling threats — they really should have thought this through beforehand — GOP policymakers still appear committed to aggressive confrontations on automatic sequestration cuts and funding levels for the government itself.

Late Breaking News! While I was at lunch, apparently a new defection came to light that makes it inevitable that the GOP is going to cave on their idiotic ploy. Sen. John Cornyn made it quite clear in an interview with the Houston Chronicle…

“We will raise the debt ceiling. We’re not going to default on our debt,” Cornyn told the Houston Chronicle editorial board…. “I will tell you unequivocally, we’re not going to default,” Cornyn said Thursday.

Game, Set, Match!

Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles

A New Kind Of Terrorism

Image created by Extreme Liberal

This made me laugh, until it made me cry. CabinGirl from Booman’s Tribune had an interesting exchange while voting in Pennsylvania on Tuesday

So, I just voted in the PA primary today…

For the first time ever, I was asked for a photo ID to vote. When I responded that asking for that was just wrong, the suburban white lady looking up my name in the voter rolls actually defended it: “It will keep the terrorists from voting, and we’ll give you a free one.”

Oh my god, run for the hills…the terrorists are going to vote us into submission.

I don’t have to think very hard to figure out where that poll worker might have gotten that idea. I can just picture Gretchen Carlson saying it on Fox and Fiends (not a typo).

What isn’t funny about that incident is that the right has succeeded in brainwashing way too many people into believing such nonsense.

Think about how many people don’t bother to vote because its an inconvenience or they might actually have to think about things other than the Kardashians for two minutes. I’m having a hard time understanding exactly what these “terrorist voters” are going to achieve with all this voting. Democracy?

The Wisdom Of Sarah Palin On The Civil War!

If there has ever been a better example of someone being given a national platform who has no business being in the role, it is Sarah Palin. Watch this clip, if you can, or read the transcript courtesy of Steve M. at Booman’s Tribune.

“SARAH PALIN: … He is bringing us back, Sean, to days that — you can hearken back to days before the Civil War, when, unfortunately, too many Americans mistakenly believed that not all men were created equal, and it was the Civil War that began the codification of the truth that here in America, yes, we are equal and we all have equal opportunities, not based on the color of your skin. You have equal opportunity to work hard and to succeed and to embrace the opportunities, God-given opportunities, to develop resources and work extremely hard and, as I say, to succeed. Now, it has taken all these years for many Americans to understand that gravity, that mistake, that took place before the Civil War, and why the Civil War had to really start changing America. What Barack Obama seems to want to do is go back to before those days, when we were in different classes, based on income, based on color of skin. Why are we allowing our country to move backwards instead of moving forward with that understanding that, as our charters of liberty spell out for us, we are all created equal?”

Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles

Is The Herman Cain Trainwreck Over Yet?

I’ve been incredulous when it comes to Herman Cain since he came on the scene. He’s just one of the sideshows of the political circus that the media is fully invested in these days. I suppose we have to have something to laugh at and make fun of along the way.

I wrote Cain off immediately when I heard some of the crazy stuff he was saying about Muslims and his overall lack of seriousness on almost every issue.

He’s a shameless self promoter and good for him if he can get the brain dead media to play along and improve his brand. You can pretty much take it to the bank that he will end up on Fox News or who knows, maybe MSNBC — they seem to be trying to play catch up to Fox News these days.

The pattern that the media and the Washington talking heads perpetuate is to bring attention to someone or something, elevate it by repeating and nourishing it. Take a poll about it, which registers all the attention it just received. Then, use the poll to justify talking about it some more. When the media grows tired of it, they either tear it down or just ignore it and move onto the next sideshow. I know I’m not the only one who sees this pattern.

Herman Cain has had a pretty long run at it so far, considering all the missteps he’s made along the way. There certainly is no shortage of gaffes when it comes to Herman Cain’s ride on the media merry-go-round. Here is just one example from Roland Martin’s blog, go read the rest.

1) Nein! Nein! Nein!

The Foot: Herman Cain’s controversial tax plan, the 9-9-9 Plan. He says it will promote fairness in our tax code. Critics say it will shift the tax burden on the poor and middle class.

Moment When Foot Entered Mouth: During a series of debates, Cain’s idea repeatedly got punched in the face with the most fatal blows coming from just about everyone else on the stage, including Mitt Romney during the Las Vegas debate when it turned into an embarrassing discussion of “Apples v. Oranges,” and during the Bloomberg News debate when Michele Bachmanntotally went there and said 9-9-9 was a little too close to 6-6-6Cain’s not Abel! He’s got the Mark of the Beast, according to Bachmann! The power of Christ compells you!

Ultimate Foot Fatality: The makers of the video game Sim City point out Cain’s advisors may have ripped of the 9-9-9 plan from their game, Sim City 4, which was like crack to me.

Cain’s Response: He tried to tweak the plan and still insists that it works. Cain has said 9-9-9 so many times, my mother doesn’t call him Herman Cain, but the “9-9-9 Man.” Typical conversation: “Danielle, did you hear what that crazy 9-9-9 man said today?”

I love the part where Bachmann thinks that 999 is just a little too close to 666. Tell me this shit isn’t funny?

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2011 – The Year The Republican Party Went Completely Batshit!

Frequently Booman says exactly what I’m thinking. This is about the Republican clown debates, did they ride out on tiny bicycles? Take it away Booman…

The only thing that could possibly be interesting about any of these debates is when someone screws up their lines and accidentally says something true. Rick Perry tried that a couple of times and he never recovered. Voters are not learning anything by watching these debates. They’re just being misinformed and presented with an alternate reality that is quite different from anything normal people experience in their lives. Unless you are immersed in right-wing talk radio and Fox News, most of what they’re saying doesn’t even have a passing relationship to your understanding of the world. Their statistics are fabricated. The problems they identify don’t even exist. Their solutions are not plausible on any level you might want to consider. It’s really a lot more like pro wrestling than actual politics. Except it’s actually less entertaining than actual politics, which proves they’re doing it wrong. Even Herman Cain, who was providing some consistent comedic value for a while, is no longer funny now that he’s trying to explain how many women he’s never harassed. I know it’s hard to write about a presidential campaign if you don’t watch the debates, but I just can’t do it. My capacity to imbibe The Stupid has been maxed out.

I can’t bring myself to watch the debates either. It’s bad enough watching the highlight reels. If there are any adults left in the Republican Party, they have to be doing facepalms like hourly.

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Update: If you didn’t see this quote from President Obama yesterday, it is golden!

“I don’t think it requires us to go negative in the sense of us running a bunch of ads that are false, or character assassinations,” Obama told Univision News. “It will be based on facts … We may just run clips of the Republican debates verbatim. We won’t even comment on them, we’ll just run those in a loop on Univision and Telemundo, and people can make up their own minds.”

Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles

With Friends Like Michael Moore, Who Needs Enemies?

Michael Moore is often dead on with his critiques of Republicans and many times with Democrats as well, but just like with his films, he often makes the facts fit whatever narrative he is trying to push.

Like many others in the “firebagger brigade”, since the election of President Obama, he spends most of his time criticizing Democrats. Personally, I’m sick of his whiny “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” shtick and based on the actions he takes every election cycle, he doesn’t seem very concerned about electing liberals to office. If he were, he would be more careful about what comes out of his pie hole. In fact, I see his shtick as very harmful to liberal politicians.

There was a clip flying around the internet the other day in which Michael Moore imparts his wisdom to us on politics and tells us why the 2010 elections favored the Republicans. For those of you who are aware of reality, it’s maddening to watch. It is a perfect example of the type of hyperbole that Moore employs and how he will say whatever he needs to — in order to push his narrative and thus his brand. Roll tape:

For those of you who can’t watch clips online, here is my rush transcript of his idiotic, uninformed rant.

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